Finding Inner Peace

ross bishopFinding inner peace can be difficult. We meditate, do yoga, read books, go to workshops, learn mantras, hang affirmations on our refrigerators and yet we remain troubled. What are we missing? Is it just that we are not sufficiently spiritual? Are we not doing it right? That is how it feels much of the time.

Years ago I learned about spirituality through Zen meditation. I sat morning and evening, religiously (if you will pardon the pun), seven days a week, at least twice a day. I got calm, my breathing deepened and the world slowed down as I began to focus on what was really important in life. My friends noticed the changes occurring in me. I went deep. I touched a place of inner peace and calm I had no idea even existed.

Bliss? Hardly. It scared the heck out of me! I had to quit for a while. I had never known that level of openness and feeling that vulnerable shook me to my core. It would be some time before I had the courage to go that deeply or feel that vulnerable again. Fortunately, the experience planted something so deep and powerful in me that I could not ignore. I had to pursue it. So here I am, 30 years later, eternally grateful for an experience that literally scared the daylights out of me. But the fear I experienced then is the same fear that keeps most people from finding inner peace today… continue article

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The Problem With Problems

by Ross Bishop

No one likes having problems. We want an idyllic life, free from stress and difficulty. Most of us long for a life on a south sea island, free from kids and other people, no obligations, no hassles, no problems and free chocolate – right? You’d think the way some people keep their lives in constant tumult that they liked it that way, but you’d be hard pressed to call them happy.

I’ve known island people and it’s true, in general they don’t struggle with life like we do. Their lives are simpler – something we could all learn from, but it isn’t that they don’t have problems. Most of them just don’t get wrapped up in their problems they way we do.

Everyone has problems, there is no escaping them (more about that in a minute), even on a south sea island. And, if all we had were our problem per. se., it wouldn’t be so bad. But our problems tend suck us into the self-depreciating spiral of our shame, and the situation then becomes an expression of all the other things wrong in our lives.

We can either stay focused on the here and now and deal with the situation or drop off the edge into shame and guilt from which there is no answer. We go from the situation to – “something’s wrong with me,” “I’m not good enough,” – you know the drill.

So how come everyone has problems? Why is life that way? It’s simple really. Because you’re not finished with the development of your awareness. With an incomplete awareness you naturally feel fear and therefore must call up your ego to protect you. That means you leave your compassion behind. You have “problems” because your ego is getting tangled up in your “situations,” and escalating them.

A great deal of dealing with life successfully has to do with our approach to it. When you can hold your love and compassion you still have situations, but they don’t become problems. There isn’t the ego involvement. When you finally realize that you cannot really be hurt by someone’s words or emotions, the game dramatically changes. So one of the secrets is not to try and avoid situations (you can’t anyway), but to learn to deal with them without getting triggered.

Another thing that helps is to realize that you are having difficulties not because something is wrong with you, but because you’re not approaching the difficulty with love and compassion. This is the growth in your awareness that I speak of. If you are to resolve a problem, you must first step outside your old way of thinking to move to a place of greater compassion. This is how we grow from our problems. In this regard then, you begin to see your problems as stepping stones not obstacles.

If you can make that shift, it helps you get out of your shell, and even if you don’t agree with the other, you can better see where they’re coming from. One of Gandhi’s real gifts was his ability to see things from the other’s point of view. Even if he totally disagreed with them, he honestly respected their viewpoint. And, that’s not to say, don’t take care of yourself, because the fist person for you to love is you.

So OK, you’ve got a situation and it has made you aware that you need to work on something or other. Find out what that is, and resolve it before it turns into a problem. Get your ego out of the way! Easy to say, I know, but it is what you came here to learn. And no one said this was going to be easy.

If the issue is big enough that you get hooked into your shame, get some help. Find a good shaman. We’re trained to deal with this sort of thing. When you free yourself from shame and self-judgment, you take important steps on your journey home. And as I said, that’s what you came here to resolve. And when you do that, life gets better for everyone . . . Remember, a trying time is a doorway to a new beginning.

Pina Colada anyone?

Copyright 2013 Blue Lotus Press

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